The opening game in Group C brings together two countries, England and USA, with a history of close relations and comradeship off the field but very little in the way of history on it. Except for one startling exception: the 1950 FIFA World Cup clash in Belo Horizonte which the Americans, seen as a 'ragtag' outfit back home, took a battering ram to convention and upset their fancied opponents 1-0. With Slovenia and Algeria also in the group at South Africa 2010, the Rustenburg game could be pivotal in the fight for qualifying places.
Under their new coach Fabio Capello, England put together a near-perfect qualifying campaign, winning nine of their ten games and scoring 34 goals - six more than Spain, the next best - to top Europe's goal chart with Wayne Rooney joint second in the individual scoring roster.
The US were also demonstrating efficiency, losing just twice in the final six-team Hexagonal phase of North, Central America and Caribbean Zone, finishing a point ahead of second-placed Mexico. A year ago their stock, and that of coach Bob Bradley, rose considerably with their performances at FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 where USA ousted favourites Spain in the semi-finals before going down to a narrow 3-2 final defeat to Brazil.
England haven't impressed in the run-up to South Africa, beating Mexico none-too-convincingly and then only overcoming Japan via two own-goals. Capello, who lost skipper Rio Ferdinand for the entire tournament after sustaining a knee injury in their first training session in Rustenburg, was also unhappy with the first-half performance in a practice match against the Platinum Stars. He is likely to install Ledley King, who has his own fitness worries, alongside John Terry in the heart of the defence while Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips might earn surprise starting roles to augment Wayne Rooney's attacking thrust.
The Americans have scored victories over Australia and Turkey but went down 4-2 to Turkey. They are likely to stick with the tried and trusted formula that saw them reach the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup with midfielder Michael Bradley, son of the coach, warning their opponents to expect a physical approach.
Altidore has made giant strides with the national team, impressing in qualifying and becoming the youngest ever hat-trick hero in US history. He will prove a powerful opponent for Terry, England's former skipper, who's star has fallen during a difficult second half to last season. With his regular England partner, Ferdinand, absent, it will be down to Terry to keep the US heavy-hitters at bay.
3 - Half of USA's six wins in 25 FIFA World Cup encounters were achieved against European opposition. As well as that famous 1950 victory over England they also beat Belgium 3-0 in 1930 and Portugal 3-2 in 2002.
What they said
"The big difference is that we've got a fit Wayne Rooney in this squad. And the squad is quite experienced. Obviously we're missing Rio but this squad is balanced. I think this is a lot of guys' last chance, considering their age at this World Cup," Joe Cole, England midfielder.
"If we give up too many wide free-kicks and direct free-kicks, we will probably get punished for it. It's important we're solid in defence and not leave guys open one-on-one," Tim Howard, USA goalkeeper.
Voice of the fans
"Let's not forget the underdog in the World Cup 2002: USA 3-2 Portugal. Portugal were the semi-finalists in the Euro 2000. This match against the English squad could be a very good match or a blow out," FIFA.com user dmuma55.
England often carry a 'fancied' tag into a FIFA World Cup only to depart disappointingly on a penalty shoot-out. Will 2010 be the year when they finally make amends?